Northern Ireland news

MJM Marine workers fear job losses will be made permanent

Gary McDonald Business Editor

HUNDREDS of workers at MJM Marine fear they could be made permanently redundant instead of being put on a British government aid-to-employers scheme.

The Newry cruise ship refurbishment and interior outfit firm told staff on St Patrick's Day that lay-offs "in large numbers" were unavoidable after all but one of its orders was postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Days later the British chancellor unveiled a scheme which sees 80 per cent of people's salaries met for three months, meaning companies could potentially "furlough" their workers and legally keep them on the books.

But a source at the firm said it is feared as many as 250 employees could be laid off and it will not enter into the government scheme given a likely long-term crisis in the cruise sector.

MJM Marine insisted it is fully engaged in a consultation process.

A spokesman said: “We are working at the highest level of government to see if we are eligible for the any of the schemes that have been proposed.

“We are doing everything we possibly can to restructure our business, which has been in existence for more than 36 years in Northern Ireland.

“The cruise industry has been massively impacted. Contracts have been postponed indefinitely, signalling a long period of recovery which unfortunately directly impacts our business. These are extremely difficult and worrying times for everyone.”

Industry insiders fear the cruise ship sector could take two years to fully recover, with major cruise lines halting operations and mothballing ships in what they said is a disastrous time for the industry.

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